17. Kas 25. Ara 22

Me, Myself, ERGİN İNAN

Since school years, Ergin İnan’s reference book has been a 1964 edition of Masnavi. It is an edition which was published in the same year when he left the School of Law and started to study at the State School of Applied Fine Arts. He came to know about Rumi’s Masnavi at the Applied School, which was founded in 1957 and which became the largest Bauhaus school founded in Europe after WW2, thanks to his German professor Karl Schlamminger. So the key that Bauhaus offered its students to have an open mind turned out to be Masnavi for Ergin İnan. In his own words, “His thoughts started clinging onto him while moving in the air” and thus, his mindset got strengthened with this doctrine. Even though many years have passed, that reference book is still there and accompanies the artist who continues to reflect and work on existential issues.

Ergin İnan turned 80 on November 14, 2022. Almost 60 years of that 80-year-long life have been dedicated to art. His main approach or subjects covered have not changed over the course of time, but he was always able to find new words to say. His latest exhibition at EArt Galeri leaves behind the expressions of the past, and tells us new things. Even though we see insects, portraits, letters, texts, or inscriptions in all periods of his work, his latest works cover those on a whole new dimension. The exhibition dedicated to the artist’s 80 years of age includes his most recent oeuvre too. İnan no longer teaches so that’s a weight off his shoulders, which in turn means he can spend more hours in his studio everyday. These latest paintings that belong to “the most productive period of his life” as he puts it date from 2019 to 2022 -but mostly 2022- and reflect a process which starts from his own existence and goes all the way to the existence of the universe.

İnan’s latest exhibition focuses on the Big Bang, which he highlights with color bursts. The artist uses a lot of light and color to depict on canvas the expanding of the universe from the point of singularity, starting 14 billion years ago. Colorful spots and marks on a black dark or a more colorful, such as red, pink or purple background, evoke explosions across the universe. These works reflect a cosmos which comes into being thanks to contrasts, such as when warm meets cold, black meets white, light meets darkness. Residue of what İnan filters out from the infinite universe are seen on large canvases.

Much of İnan’s oeuvre include insects since 70s and they became his signature. Marks of paint that appear to have been randomly thrown on the canvas fill up some spaces which look like a giant insect or a butterfly. In this abstract setting extending towards the unknown, insects attract the viewer photographically and relax us with their familiar appearances. Let alone triggering entomophobia, they put us in awe with their colors and forms. İnan used to observe insects in their garden when he was a kid, and he included them coincidentally in the letters he wrote as a teenager. Those insects that ended up taking over all his works are the main actors in his latest work too. Evolving from a simple scribble into a Kafkaesque metamorphosis, insects sometimes complete the painting along with the portraits and exist all by themselves in many others. They become the expressions of what we cannot tell or explain.

Other groups of work in the exhibition include portraits, which also contains a self-portrait. These are also made up of colors that burst, melt, and intertwine. Yet some of them are just sketches by İnan “the master of patterns”. It’s not quite possible to catch any emotion in those grotesque portraits whose profile and side views overlap and whose contours are unclear. While colors burst by screaming, portraits seem to stay put, mute, and devoid of any emotion. Within these distorted shapes, only the eyes are crystal clear and look directly at the viewer. These fixated eyes make the viewer uncomfortable, causing them to suspect and question their own existence. What do these mute creatures tell me? What are they trying to say? Maybe the artist asks the following via these paintings: “I am Ergin İnan, who are you?”

Ergin İnan also designed 3D cupolas while he spent time between İstanbul and Berlin. These works are also exceptionally exhibited along with his latest oeuvre. These types of mausolea are seen pretty much everywhere from East Turkistan to Anatolia, where Turks set foot, and İnan’s interpretation of these forms stand on the crossroads between monumental sculpture, architecture, and painting. Surfaces of those 3D forms -whose dimensions are 185 x 125 x 45 centimeters- includes paintings by the artist. We can see that İnan, whose life was split between two cities between 1996 and 2000, reflects this dichotomy on these cupolas who are made up of halves themselves.

For Ergin İnan, painting is the only way to express oneself. Thanks to this intuitive pouring out of his heart, we can witness his emotions and thoughts. This latest exhibition provides a chance to watch a clear body of water run before our eyes “without getting blurred or frozen”.


Fatma Batukan Belge


November 2022